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What to Know About Cellular Phone Lines for Your Emergency Devices
While analog line elimination has been an ongoing conversation for some time, there has been much in the news in the last year of telecom giants supporting legislation that would eliminate a requirement for the telco to offer landline voice service. What does that mean for those in the building owner and manager space when the industry is already moving on its own to VoIP and cellular solutions? For those not already future-proofing your communication systems, now is the time to do so.
Go Cellular: Incorporating Your Emergency Phone Lines in Your Future Proofing Process
Emergency phones lines, such as the dedicated landlines used in each of your elevator cabs, are not always prioritized in this elimination. This is often due to some obstacles regarding code compliance that VoIP creates.
VoIP can be problematic for elevator phone use because of specific code requirements including monitoring around the clock and the ability of the monitoring party to call back in to the cab in the event of a disconnection. 24/7 monitoring will often mean you have a third party involved and if on VoIP, that third party may need to have access to your network. Ask your IT team how they feel about that. Outside of internal comfort levels with outside access to your network, relying on the availability of internet service for emergency events is not recommended. Emergency lines do not typically fit the bill for VoIP. Learn more: How VoIP Works (Or Doesn’t Work) with Your Elevator Communications System.
That doesn’t mean there’s not a solution. Landline service, while reliable, is not the only answer. In fact, it is far from perfect, especially when it comes to time to connect.
The Natural Emergency Phone Solution: Kings III Skyline Cellular Service
Cellular is the viable solution. Here’s how to customize cellular for emergency use:
- For ASME code compliance, you will need to ensure your solution allows the monitoring party to identify the caller’s location down to the elevator cab number without aid from the caller.
- You should have a direct connection to power and a battery backup with minimum standby and talk time for use in power outages.
- Include time to connect in your evaluation, both in technology related to placing the call and capacity of the monitoring center to quickly receive and respond to the call, including overwhelmed elevator company call centers and 911. Speed is a factor in emergency situations for obvious reasons relating to life safety, but speed is also a factor in tenant experience. You want your property to reflect a concierge experience for tenants and guests at every opportunity and emergency response in the building should be no different.
How exactly does Kings III Skyline cellular service work?
- Skyline completely eliminates dependency on POTS lines by leveraging the mobile network
- For elevators, our two piece solution uses a traditional ADA compliant handsfree phone in the elevator cab and the cellular transceiver is located outside of the concrete & steel lined shaft.
- Traditionally our SkyLine unit is placed in a telco room, but it can be remotely located to other locations to achieve a better signal so long as there is a power outlet available to plug it in.
- Skyline utilizes existing wiring running between the telecom room to machine room. Then existing wiring is run from the machine room, through travel cable, into the elevator cab. Important to note that while the signal enters the building in a “wireless” fashion, there is copper wiring required to connect the dial tone all the way to the elevator cab. This is probably the most common misconception we deal with.
Some common cellular emergency phone Q&A’s:
- Do elevators need a phone line?
Yes. Even with an elevator cellular service, while the signal enters the building in a "wireless" fashion, there is copper wiring required to connect the dial tone all the way back to the elevator cab. However, Skyline cellular completely eliminates dependency on POTS lines (Plain Old Telephone Service) by leveraging the mobile network.
- Does an elevator need a dedicated cellular phone line?
Elevators do require dedicated cellular phone lines. Kings III’s Skyline Cellular Solution allows for cellular cost savings that work around the requirement of a dedicated cellular phone line.
In order for emergency phones to work, they must have priority access to a two-way communication path, typically in the form of a traditional phone line or a cellular connection. This does not necessitate a dedicated communication path (a dedicated phone line). However, if an emergency phone is set up to share its communication path with other devices, you must utilize smart consolidation technology to do so. This enables multiple emergency phones to operate simultaneously. We have agreements with multiple carriers — often at a lower cost than you would find if you were to buy the line yourself. Our solution is turnkey and so we provide the hardware and access to the cellular signal, no need for the client to sign up with a wireless carrier for another monthly bill.
- What are POTS lines used for?
POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines use traditional analog phone services with old-fashioned copper wires to generate power and connectivity to the telephone service provider's central switching system. While still effective, it is considered a more dated means to an end.
- Is wiring required for a cellular elevator phone?
Yes, while we typically think of cellular and wireless as interchangeable, that is not the case for emergency phones. While the signal enters the building in a “wireless” fashion, there is copper wiring required to connect the dial tone all the way to the elevator cab.
- Will customers be responsible for providing the cellular line?
No. Kings III provides cellular signals. We have agreements with multiple carriers eliminating your need to deal with someone else for phone lines– often at a lower cost than you would find if you were to buy the line yourself. This is a turnkey solution where we provide the hardware and access to the cellular signal, no need for the client to go sign up with a wireless carrier for another monthly bill.
- Is cellular service reliable?
Because our business is focused on life safety, we recognize the importance of having a signal. We test coverage before installation, and can also remotely locate the cellular transceiver away from the phone (if necessary) to achieve the best signal strength.
- How can I test my cellular phone for elevators?
In order to test your elevator cellular solution, you must make sure that it passes all code requirements. See more on testing your elevator phone here.
- How often should elevator phones be tested?
We recommend testing your elevator phones at least once a month. Kings III's all-inclusive service includes auto testing, which performs testing monthly.See more on testing your elevator phone here.
- Are cellular phones required in elevators?
You can use either a traditional solution (landline or POTS plain old telephone service) or a cellular solution for your elevator phones. Reach out to one of our experts to help you determine what makes the most sense to your property.
Landlines are going away. Now is the time to evaluate sometimes forgotten or overlooked systems that may require customized solutions to remain code compliant while ensuring a seamless transition without downtime.